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Wind turbines have their tradeoffs

Be wary of individuals preaching the benefits while avoiding mention of ill effects from wind turbines. They probably are set to make a bundle off the things.

I’d like to respond to Vivian and Bob Barry and Joan Deaver regarding their comments about wind power. I agree with their basic premise about CO2 emissions. However, before getting on the bandwagon for wind energy there are a number of problems that need to be considered. It is not environmentally responsible to replace one problem with another.

I did a google search for Willet Kempton to see what his work involved and it is nice to see he is attempting to solve one of the drawbacks of wind energy. Specifically, one problem with wind energy is that it is produced most readily when we need it the least. The current electrical grids serving the US have no storage capacity. What is needed must be met with production.Too much or not enough can set off a series of problems resulting in large areas experiencing black outs. One must be aware that the grid serving us, the Eastern Interconnected System, on the east coast is one massive machine supplying electricity to the entire US east of the Rocky Mountains excluding Texas.

With the current absence of storage capacity to meet demand during peak hours (when the wind won’t be blowing) conventional plants must supply demand. Denmark is the leading... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

I’d like to respond to Vivian and Bob Barry and Joan Deaver regarding their comments about wind power. I agree with their basic premise about CO2 emissions.   However, before getting on the bandwagon for wind energy there are a number of problems that need to be considered. It is not environmentally responsible to replace one problem with another.

I did a google search for Willet Kempton to see what his work involved and it is nice to see he is attempting to solve one of the drawbacks of wind energy. Specifically, one problem with wind energy is that it is produced most readily when we need it the least. The current electrical grids serving the US have no storage capacity. What is needed must be met with production. Too much or not enough can set off a series of problems resulting in large areas experiencing black outs. One must be aware that the grid serving us, the Eastern Interconnected System, on the east coast is one massive machine supplying electricity to the entire US east of the Rocky Mountains excluding Texas.  

With the current absence of storage capacity to meet demand during peak hours (when the wind won’t be blowing) conventional plants must supply demand. Denmark is the leading manufacturer of wind turbines globally and has a large generating capacity. Yet no conventional plant has been shut down in Denmark.  http://www.aweo.org/ProblemWithWind.html

Unfortunately there are a number of other problems that need to be solved. Current wind turbines are getting taller and using longer and longer blades. There are numerous sites in the state of West Virginian where wind turbine facilities are being proposed or already approved. The turbines on these facilities will have a blade diameter of about 270 feet and hub heights about 265 above the ground.   That means the blade swept area is a circle with its low point about 130 feet above the ground and the high point 400 feet above the ground. The swept area for one turbine is over one acre.  Blade tip speeds can exceed 180 mph.  It is not unusual for an installation to have 50 turbines, and several have over 100 turbines. They cannot be spaced close together, thus 50 turbines will cover a large piece of ground. The turbines do not operate at peak output 100% of the time.   If the wind blows to hard they have to be locked down. If it isn’t blowing hard enough they operate well below maximum output. Turbines sited in the mountains of West Virginia can be expected to produce about 30% of nameplate output.

“A single 555-megawatt gas-fired power plant in California generates more electricity in a year than do all 13,000 of the state's wind turbines. The gas-fired plant sits atop a mere 15 acres. The 300-foot-tall windmills impact over a hundred thousand acres, to provide expensive, intermittent,insufficient energy.” http://www.sovereignty.net/p/clim/wind-leo.htm

Each turbine requires a massive foundation, on order of a cube of solid concrete with steel reinforcement. The production of concrete contributes to CO2 emissions. The entire construction phase generates massive amounts of CO2 from manufacture of turbine parts, transporting parts, and assembling the turbines. Often the road systems in areas where facilities are sited need to be rebuilt to handle the equipment used in construction and transportation.  A 135 foot long blade will require a rig about 150 feet in length compared to a conventional tractor/trailer combo of about 60 feet total length, not to mention the cranes needed to lift the 50+ton generator/nacelle to the top of the tower. After construction roads will need to be repaired from the damages done by heavy equipment. All of this will generate CO2. It will take years to “catch up” to the CO2 emitted by manufacture and installation of a wind turbine facility.  

The wind industry has vastly understated the noise generated by the current crop of wind turbines. The models and formulae that are commonly used to estimate noise production for a given site are flawed and do not reflect the atmospheric conditions that are present during the night. Those hours are when the most noise is generated. Estimated sound production does not agree with properly measured sound production on existing sites. There are reports of adverse health impacts created by the low frequency noise generated by the turbines.

There is a well documented set of problems fitting under the name vibrio acoustic disorder that affect industrial workers exposed to low frequency sounds on a chronic basis. Several doctors are looking into  possible similar issues with wind turbines.   http://www.ninapierpont.com/?s=wind

The wind industry has also understated the impact to wildlife and perhaps livestock. The facility on Backbone Mountain in Tucker County W. VA is credited with the highest number of bat kills for any facility around the globe. Siting these in the mountains puts migratory birds, raptors, and bats in harms way. Noise is also believed to adversely affect wildlife and livestock. None of this is being addressed pro actively by the wind energy. To date all promises are to do studies after facilities are installed and attempt to mitigate impacts.   So far mitigation has been a failure on existing installations.  http://www.whoi.edu/oceanus/viewArticle.do?id=2501

I can find very little on noise impacts for marine life other than positive comments by wind industry proponents. Judging by assessments of noise and blade strikes this is work best left to independent parties with no affiliation with the industry in any fashion. I have only seen two references to wildlife impacts and both indicate that animals are certainly suffering impact in spite of industry claims.


One other important aspect is the fact that our tax dollars are being spent to subsidize these projects to the tune of large profits for industry as well as massive tax breaks for them.    It is of note that Enron was a pioneer in the industry working with the Clinton administration for the renewable energy programs that bring them considerable profit. These people have a proven record with profit over prosperity and that alone should be enough to make one proceed with caution. 

We are a consumption happy nation.   Perhaps this is the mirror is the first place we should examine for CO2 reduction. Energy efficiency and conservation are potential solutions we currently can enact with minimal environmental impact.  Better insulated homes, more efficient appliances, and just turning the lights off when leaving a room are all simple solutions. The billions being sunk into wind generators could save untold tons of CO2 emissions if it were directed this way. So far the only thing green about wind energy appears to be the money a few people are putting in their pockets.


The domestic auto manufacturers boast of fuel efficient cars yet it appears to me that the ones they hawk in the ads are the gas guzzling SUVs. A glance down the highway shows this to be and effective sales technique. I see countless solo occupant sub 20 mpg vehicles every time I go to the store. Walk or ride a bike if the distance is short or buy a fuel efficient car or motorcycle. 

Be wary of individuals preaching the benefits while avoiding mention of ill effects from wind turbines. They probably are set to make a bundle off the things.


Source: http://www.delmarvanow.com/...

DEC 6 2006
https://www.windaction.org/posts/6155-wind-turbines-have-their-tradeoffs
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